For 17-year-old cancer survivor and basketball star Spencer Wilson, time is but a figment of the imagination.
Consider these stats: three years ago, he was given six months to live - he's still here. Throughout two battles with cancer, he went through over 30 rounds of chemotherapy, spending 90 days in the hospital in one year - and he played basketball the entire time.
On Friday night, during a basketball game at Bishop McGuinness High in Kernersville, NC, Spencer's team was down by one point with only 2.2 seconds left on the clock, and that was just the moment when he threw this incredible 50-foot shot straight into the basket to win the game.
Undoubtedly, Spencer defies any limits, fears or expectations placed on him, particularly when it comes to his life and love of the game.
"Spencer called me and said it was something divine, like an angel dropped it in that net," Jodie Wilson, Spencer's mother, tells the Good News blog.
Throughout the highs and lows of Spencer's life, the teenager has carried with him a spirit and drive to not only live, but live the way he wants. He was first diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare form of tissue cancer, when he was 13 years old. Doctors found a malignant tumor in his leg, and with treatment, gave him an 85 percent chance of survival.
After doctors removed the tumor, Spencer went through 15 rounds of chemotherapy, and Jodie estimates he spent around 90 days in the hospital over a course of a year. Nevertheless, he continued playing basketball with not one but two teams: his middle school squad as well as an AAU team.
"It was hard for us to watch because he was frail and his immune system was down," Jodie remembers. "Basketball was his sanctuary away from the whole cancer world."
In March of 2010, Spencer appeared to be in remission, however, he relapsed six months later. This time, the tumors had spread to his groin and lymph nodes. Doctors told the Wilsons that without treatment, Spencer had six months to a year to live. With treatment, he had only a seven percent chance of survival.
"That was very, very hard, to say the least," Jodie recalls. "You want to make everything right for your kids. There's nothing worse than seeing your child suffer."
This time around, Spencer went through 20 weeks of chemo and radiation, along with a new vaccine trial that took place at the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. Every other week, the family would drive seven to eight hours on Friday to receive treatments, which entailed creating a medication using the tumors within the teen. Then, they would drive those many hours back home.
Without fail, every Saturday morning, Spencer woke up and continued to play basketball.
"That was his place of peace," Jodie says.
By June 2011, Spencer's cancer had gone into remission, and he's had clean checkups ever since. Jodie attributes this feat to their faith and trust in God. She would also say the same about that amazing basketball shot over the weekend. In fact, Friday's game was particularly unique as the team's coach decided it would be a "Dedication Game," in which each player would write a letter to someone they wanted to honor during the match.
"The coach said that night, you will play for that person, play for something more than yourself," Jodie notes. "Spencer wrote a letter to a kid who passed away last spring from cancer."
The kid's name was Josh, and Spencer also sent Josh's family an email telling them he was remembering their son during the game. What an honor then for the winning shot to come from Spencer.
"He could relate to Josh so much," Jodie says, adding, "And Josh loved basketball."
Undoubtedly, so does Spencer. Jodie says her son's next goal is to play in college, and something tells us he will stop at nothing to accomplish it.
More of the Good News:
This Basketball Player Does More with One Arm Than Most Players do…
The Basketball Shot to End All Other Basketball Shots
Patients at Duke Children's Hospital Keep Valvano's Dream Alive